Foresight

Ari lives in a world where everyone is born with a black mark on their wrist. This mark determines their abilities and their rank in life. For Ari, her mark is outside of the main four, and this makes her an outcast, forced into hiding where she is and who she is.

When the Queen finds out she's been hiding under her own roof, she has to run, leaving her family behind, to find sanctuary in one of the hidden colonies. This plunges her into a war that she is now one of the main pieces in. Now she has to train, to fight to save the very country that abandoned her.

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3. Chapter 3

I woke to the sun streaming through the single window in my room. It was definitely brighter here than what I was used to. Probably due to the snow; white was an extremely good reflector. It was kind of annoying when you were trying to sleep.

I opened one eye and peeked out into the room. Getting up to pull the curtains shut was extremely tempting. But then I’d basically be awake. I sighed, might as well get ready.

There was another knock on my door. I hoped this level of traffic wasn’t normal around here. Just my luck; it was Saskia. Was that perpetual look of disdain on her face normal? She’d better hope the wind didn’t change or she’d be stuck.

“Rise and shine new girl,” she twisted her mouth into an obviously fake smile, “Lots to do today.”

Oh yeah, I’d forgotten about the oracle. I’d want to visit them as early as I could; the lack of information on my part was bugging me.

“Good morning to you too.” I definitely didn’t like her. I waved at Dax walking across the training room behind her. Saskia waved too, but flashed me a warning glance. God, what was with this girl? I’d been here five seconds and already everything I did annoyed her.

I smoothed my hair back, fixing it in a tidy ponytail. I’d slept in my travelling clothes so I didn’t need to change. A guard was already standing at the doors leading to the outside when I walked to that end of the training room, pushing past Saskia on the way.

“I am to take you to the oracle,” his voice was monotonous, his stance like someone from the military, “then you will be shown around the compound.”

Well that was good, no need to ask for anything around here.

“Great,” I mirrored his posture with my own. I could see in his eyes that he knew I was mocking him, but he said nothing, “shall we set off then?”

I could have sworn it was colder outside that morning. Or maybe it was just the difference from the warmth inside the hut; it was well insulated, possibly helped along by a little magic. I’d have to try and sense it in the walls when I got back.

“So,” I’m not sure why I tried to start a conversation, I just really didn’t like awkward silences, “You’re not one of the five I saw when I got here.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Wow, do you guys have a limit to the number of words you can say or something?”

He just stared straight ahead. Fine, I did the same.

We stopped just outside one of the smaller huts.

“She’s expecting you.” He stepped to the side, leaving me to enter alone.

The inside was fairly dark; the only light from a small circular window in one wall. The rest of the walls were lined with various coloured bottles and jars, the contents of which I couldn’t even begin to imagine. The sole occupant was a young woman, around the age of my mother if I were to guess, sitting cross legged in the centre of the floor.

That was odd; I’d expected the oracle to be old.

A flat cushion, I assumed where I was to sit, was on the floor opposite her. I copied her pose, crossing my legs as I sat, and waited for her to acknowledge me. She seemed to be staring off into the middle distance, at nothing in particular. Her eyes were clouded, probably using her foresight.

“Ariella Winter.” I jumped at the use of my full name.

“Yes?” I straightened my back as her eyes cleared, “That’s my name.”

“I know,” she smiled, “I know all about you.”

Okay, slightly creepy, but I expected that from someone with foresight; especially someone who seemed to dedicate their days to it.

“Great, then you can tell me about this prophecy that apparently involves me.”

She raised her eyebrows, obviously not very impressed about being rushed. But I could tell she was a friendly person; she had an aura of warmth about her.

She reached out her hands, palms up.

“Let me take your hands.” She closed her eyes, waiting.

I placed mine on top of hers. For a moment she just sat there, not saying anything, I could feel a tug at my magic, almost probing.

She nodded, “Yes, you are an Optivus. A powerful one,” she opened her eyes, “But untrained.”

“I’m trained.” I balked. My dad had spent years training me.

“Yes, but not in your abilities. Your magic is wild. But with focus,” she eyed me up, “You could be the child of the prophecy.”

“Sure, could we get back to that please?” I was getting impatient.

“Very well.” She released my hands, placing hers back on her knees. She took a deep breath.

“The Prophecy states that a child of the elements,” I got a pointed look at that line, “Will be the saviour of the kingdom; the one who unites us all. The one to stop all the bloodshed.” She paused to let that sink in.

“But the child will have to endure great hardships, many sacrifices.”

“Okay this all sounds a bit—”

“Let me finish,” she clenched her hands, “You were the one who wanted to know the prophecy.”

I was silent.

“Thank you,” the oracle relaxed again, “Each of the elements will train them, for it is their future in the balance. And only once the battle is won, will the kingdom be whole.”

“Okay,” I paused, collecting my thoughts, “So I’m potentially this ‘saviour’?”

“You, or one of the few Optiva we have managed to find.”

“What if I don’t want to?” I leaned back.

“Don’t want to... save us all?” She looked confused.

“No, I don’t mean it like that, it’s just— Who says one of us can actually do it?”

She raised her eyebrows incredulously.

“I mean, why a child? Why not an army? You have a lot of power here; you can easily overthrow the Queen.”

“Oh believe me, it has been attempted,” she looked away, her eyes sad all of a sudden, “Besides, that is not the future I see.”

“Oh, so the future you see is the only future?” I wasn’t sure why I was so wound up so quickly.

“It is what will happen,” her eyes snapped back to mine, “And if I could accept knowing that, and knowing that I would see everything that will occur, no matter how horrible,” she put extra emphasis on that last word, “You can accept your destiny.”

I looked down at the ground in shame; I suppose having a destiny of saving the kingdom was a lot easier to handle than what the oracle had to go through every day of her life. If it was mine, I would just have to accept it. Besides, it might not even be me mentioned in the prophecy.

“Now,” she said, her voice a little softer, “I think it is time to start training.”

* * * * * * * *

When I returned back to the training hut, Daxon and Saskia were in the middle of a fight. Not an argument, I could see that just from the ice mage standing at the edge of the room; he acted like it was a normal thing to do. Also, the words of advice he occasionally uttered and the years I’d had doing the same with my dad as training were clues.

Another young man in the room started toward me. He had jet black hair and blue eyes; the signs of a water mage.

“So, what elemental colony are you from?” he asked, looking me up and down. His voice was very cool, but I expected that; the water mages always were very separate from their emotions.

“None of them,” I smoothed my clothes down, suddenly self conscious, “Both of my parents were class fours. We lived in the city; at the castle most recently.”

Of the rest of the non-elementals, everyone was split into four groups, which determined their status, by the level of their abilities. The most powerful were the royals, including the Queen. The second most powerful were the lords and ladies, the third were the general public; salesmen, shopkeepers and similar. And the fourth were just powerful enough to be the servants; the maids, cleaners, valets. My parents were in the final group. That was why it was especially surprising to them that I ended up being an Optivus. Most days, when I was in hiding, I covered up my mark and replaced it with theirs; a spiral of water droplets in black ink. It was simple, easy to draw.

“Impressive.” It didn’t sound like a compliment, just a statement.

“I suppose,” I put out my hand, “I’m Ari.”

“Kane.” His handshake was sharp and quick.

“So,” I glanced over at the other two, now sparring with knives, “Are we going to fight each other too?”

“Yeah, but we’re starting outside.” At my confused expression he elaborated, “They tell me you’re already trained with this stuff,” he jabbed his thumb back towards the other pair, “So we’re starting with magic training.” A mischievous smile turned up the corners of his mouth.

Our trainer was a young man, maybe only mid twenties, and apparently something of a magical prodigy around these parts. He, Kane and I were all dressed in the white bodysuits the guards had been wearing when we fought. I didn’t mind much; they were quite warm, and felt similar to my own combat clothes. To be honest I think I was more comfortable being the same colour as my environment; I was never one to like standing out in a crowd.

We were all spaced evenly apart in a small arena carved into the ice. I expected the floor to be slippery, but it was made rough by a mixture of carvings in the floor and a thin layer of snow.

Our instructor must have seen me looking because he broke the silence, “This arena is kept close to the floor so the ice is easily accessible,” he paused, “You’ll need to be able to touch the ice if you are going to learn to control it.”

I was momentarily shocked. I mean, I’d assumed we would be learning about the elements, but I didn’t think that power over ice was even an ability I could have; not even water elementals could learn it.

“Optiva can expand their range of control over all aspects of an element,” he held his hands behind his back, “Soon this will be as natural to you as the power over water, and it can be a great advantage in battle to have an unexpected move under your belt.”

We both nodded, eager to start.

“Okay, introduction over,” he relaxed slightly, “I am Faben. I’ll be your trainer for as long as you need me.”

“So,” I half raised my hand, not sure how to act, “Are we going to be fighting each other?”

I saw Kane smirk slightly in the corner of my eye. Faben just smiled, slightly patronisingly in my opinion.

“No, not quite yet,” the smile stayed on his face, “We’ll start with some mental exercises; connecting to the ice, then move on to techniques. After you’ve got the hang of it, we’ll start one on one sparring with one of you two and myself.”

“Okay, how long will that take?” I heard the annoyance in my voice and took a small breath to calm down; I wasn’t very good with authority.

“It will take as long as it takes.” His eyes were cool. Yep, it was definitely that authority thing.

“Well that’s good, I thought you’d be a bit vague about it.”

We locked eyes for a moment.

“Okay,” Kane broke the tension, “We should probably get started then.”

“Yes, right,” he blinked a couple of times, getting his train of thought back, “Would you both sit, cross legged, on the ice.” He glanced at me, “Please.” He added.

I lowered myself to the ground, feeling the sharp bite of the cold as I sat. Well at least he was trying.

“Now, close your eyes.” He said, quickly following his own orders. I copied him, spending a few seconds just staring at the backs of my eyelids.

“Feel for your magic; bring it to the forefront of your mind.” I did as he asked and felt it bloom to my mental touch, at attention almost immediately. It was strange thinking of it this consciously; it had become second nature in the past few years.

“Okay, now separate the different elements from each other.” Faben said. I peeked open one eye.

“Sorry what?” My magic was just one thing; a feeling. It didn’t have separate parts.

“You’ll know when you feel it. Just start by focusing on just the water part,” he rested his hands on the ground beside him, “Imagine you’re moving water right now, pull the magic you want to the front.”

I took a deep breath. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try. I imagined a pool of water in front of me and, in my mind, held out my hand, willing it to move. I wanted a pillar of water to rise out of the pool. Soon my magic rushed to attention, but I didn’t use it right away, I held it back; getting used to the feel of it, if it was any different to when I wanted a fire, or to move the earth. To start with, I couldn’t sense anything unique about it, but then I pushed a bit further and broke through some sort of invisible barrier in my mind.

“Whoa.” The word spilled out of my mouth before I could stop it. Suddenly my whole mind was ablaze with colour; my water magic a bright, clear blue. Earth was a warm green, Fire a mix of orange and red, and Air a white so bright I thought I might have gone blind from looking straight at it if it hadn’t been all in my mind.

My eyes shot open. Wow, I can’t believe I hadn’t tried that before; my mind felt much clearer, like I was finally seeing behind a door I hadn’t even known was there until now. Faben had another of his smug smiles on his face, great; I couldn’t wait till I got to fight that guy. Good form of motivation I supposed.

I looked over to Kane. He still had his eyes closed, an expression of concentration clear in his features. Oh, he still hadn’t broken through his barrier. I sat and waited, but only a few moments later I saw his face light up, a mixture of shock and wonder. Had I looked like that? He slowly opened his eyes.

“Well, that was different.” Kane breathed, we exchanged a smile.

“That was only the first step, but it will help you greatly in the training further on.”

“How exactly would that help?” Right now all I could see were flashy colours behind my eyes, it seemed like a distraction in the middle of a battle.

“To control the ice,” he levelled his gaze at me, choosing his words carefully, “You’ll need to use water separately from all the other elements; focus it.”

I was fairly impressed, already he had got the hang of my attitude; speaking solely in facts, statements. It was how my mind worked. He made a good impression of a teacher; I’d give him some more time before deciding what my opinion of him was.

“To start, a physical connection will help the flow of energy,” he fanned out his hands on the ground and gestured for us to do the same, “Find a connection between you and the ice, similar to the one you find with water.”

It was strange; I wasn’t used to calling for water when there wasn’t any around. Plus, the ice was burning my hand. I mentally pushed harder and almost pulled my hands away when the bright blue rushed into my vision.

The connection wasn’t instant like I was used to. It felt like I was trying to thread a needle that someone was waving in front of my face. I felt my nails scratch the surface of the ground beside me, heard my breath heavy from the effort.

“It isn’t about force,” I heard Faben’s voice as if it was far away, “It’s about transforming the connection you’re used to into something stronger; changing its state if you will.”

Okay, so I needed to think about the link in a different way. I pulled back slightly, stopped forcing it, and focused on the thread of power reaching toward the ice. I imagined it growing colder, matching it to what I wanted it to control. I stopped when it was solid, more like a frozen vine than a thread, and attempted to connect to the ice again.

This time it was like the two were magnets, drawn to each other, the magic following suit. It was amazing.

This training was opening my mind, making my magic stronger; easier to manipulate. And it had only been a matter of minutes. Okay, maybe this guy was pretty good. If anything he was useful; I’d be much safer from the Queen and whoever she had sent after me if my magic was as strong as it could be.

“Okay, so now you’ve both got a connection, you can feel the ice and its structure,” I kept my eyes closed, listening to his instructions, “Feel how you can mould it to your will, exactly like you would any other element.”

He was right, connecting had been the hard part, now it just felt like any other element to my mind. Now I could control solid ice. I just knew it.

I willed it to rise up around both of my hands, making a sort of frozen shell around them, and instantly the ice flowed to my touch. I couldn’t help it; I grinned like a fool. If there was anything I was passionate about, it was my magic. That, and archery. The feel of a bow in my hand was unlike any other. I think I just liked control. That was the root of my dislike of authority; I’d been learning to be self dependent for a long time now.

I peeled back the ice around my hands with my mind, folding it back like the petals of a flower. When I removed my hands it actually looked quite pretty.

I could see Kane playing with the ice; making small towers in patterns around him and destroying them just as quickly. That was the thing with magic; the initial barrier was the hardest part, after that it was just honing, fine tuning. Now we started the proper training.

“I see you’ve got the hang of the connection,” our instructor smiled, “Now how do you both feel about a little fight?”

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